7 James Bond Movies Starring Roger Moore
Roger Moore stars in the James Bond film ‘Live And Let Die’, 1973.
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Following Sean Connery’s departure from the Bond franchise, producers Albert Broccoli and Harry Saltzman turned to British TV star, Roger Moore, to fill those rather large shoes. While he was a star in England and America thanks to his six seasons on “The Saint,” Moore was roundly criticized even before his first Bond film as being too much of a lightweight to play the role.
Though it took a couple of movies, Moore actually settled into the part rather well despite continued calls that he had traded Connery’s suave super agent for a campier version who was quicker with a wink than with his Walther PPK. Regardless, Moore spent 12 years as a James Bond actor and accounted for at least a few of the franchise’s best films.
Once Sean Connery left the franchise for good after “Diamonds Are Forever” (1971), Moore made his debut as James Bond in this blaxploitation-themed addition to the series. In “Live and Let Die,” Bond battles a Harlem drug lord named Dr. Kananga/Mr. Big (Yaphet Kotto), who plans on driving out the world’s drug cartels by flooding the streets with free heroin in order to gain a monopoly on the market. It’s not exactly the world domination plots from Bond movies of old, which makes “Live and Let Die” feel small in comparison. Despite criticism for the movie’s racial overtones and skepticism with Moore’s cheeky portrayal of 007, the film was a commercial hit, though it was a rather unimpressive debut.
Outside of Moore’s last Bond movie, “A View to a Kill,” “The Man with the Golden Gun” was a true low point in the entire Bond franchise. And that’s putting it mildly. Here Bond faces off against Francisco Scaramanga (Christopher Lee), the titular villain who plots to acquire a super weapon called the Solex Agitator, which harnesses the power of the sun into a destructive weapon, while also seeking to assassinate Bond. Thinking he is Bond’s equal, Scaramanga was certainly one of the better Bond villains, thanks in large part to Lee’s convincing performance. But the film itself is long and slow – really, did we need to see Moore’s entire flight to Scaramanga’s hideout? – and boasts one of the silliest fight scenes, where Scaramanga’s dwarf henchman, Nick Nack (Herve Villechaize), tries to attack Bond with a knife and winds up being thrown into the ocean in a suitcase.
After the disappointment of his first two films, Moore finally hit his stride in “The Spy Who Loved Me,” not only the best of the Roger Moore era, but one of the best movies in the entire series. This one has it all: a great opening ski chase that ends in a rousing parachute jump from a cliff that proudly displays the Union Jack; a stunningly beautiful Bond Girl, Anya Amasova (Barbara Bach), who goes by the code name Agent XXX; a classic Bond villain (Curt Jürgens) hell-bent on destroying the world; and everybody’s favorite indestructible henchman, Jaws (Richard Kiel), who uses overwhelming strength and reinforced steel teeth to overpower his victims. Sure, the campy humor is still there, but it’s measured well against the great action sequences and undeniable chemistry between Moore and Bach. The film was a massive hit with critics and audiences, and contained one of the series’ most memorable theme songs, “Nobody Does It Better,” by Carly Simon.
Most people dismiss “Moonraker” for its over-the-top action, absurd characters, and all-too-campy humor. But it’s exactly because of those qualities many love this movie and rank it high on the list of all-time best Bond movies. This time Bond battles madman billionaire, Hugo Drax (Michael Lonsdale), who builds a fleet of space shuttles and plans to use them to release poison gas across the globe, killing Earth’s entire population, before repopulating the planet with genetically perfect humans. Yes, Dr. Holly Goodhead (Lois Chiles) wasn’t the most exciting or glamorous Bond Girl, but Jaws makes his second, and presumably last, appearance, attacking Bond during a parachute dive and on a cable car, only to wind up helping 007 dispatch Drax after he falls in love. Maybe the filmmakers went too far with Bond’s inflatable gondola, but “Moonraker” is still great fun and became one of the highest-grossing movies of the franchise.
In an effort to tone down the over-the-top action and campy humor, the filmmakers returned to Bond’s espionage roots with “For Your Eyes Only,” a film that has divided critics and audiences since its 1981 release. Combining two Ian Fleming short stories, the film focused on Bond’s attempt to find a missile command system while becoming entwined with the vengeance-minded daughter (Carole Bouquet) of two marine archeologists murdered by a Cuban hitman. That leads to Greek smuggler Aristotle Kristatos (Julian Glover), who also wants to get his hands on the missile system. While there was plenty of camp in the opening sequence, where Bond turns the tables on a wheelchair-bound Blofeld, “For Your Eyes Only” does manage to stay within the lines. The action sequences are fantastic – especially the ski chase on the bobsled track – but the in-between moments are dull, while real-life figure skater, Lynn-Holly Johnson, makes for one of the most annoying Bond Girls ever.
A return to the tongue-in-cheek tone of the previous Moore films, “Octopussy” again divided fans and critics despite being another big box office hit. By this point in his tenure, Moore was showing signs of his age, but he still managed to pull off the role with his usual aplomb. Here Bond tries to uncover the death of British agent 009, who was found stabbed in the back while wearing a clown costume and holding a fake Fabergé egg. That leads 007 to uncover a plot by Russian General Orlov (Steven Berkoff) and wealthy Afghan prince Kamal Kham (Louis Jordan) to detonate a nuclear weapon at a U.S. Army base in West Germany and force NATO to withdraw so the Soviet Union can invade. Along the way, he engages the titular Octopussy (Maud Adams), a wealthy businesswoman who leads a cult of female acrobats and helps Khan smuggle priceless jewels. Yes, it’s a bit much when Bond yells like Tarzan while swinging on vines through the jungle or convincing an attacking tiger to sit, but “Octopussy” is a fun movie and is not as bad as some people say.
This was the last and definitely the worst Bond movie starring Roger Moore, which is saying something considering his first two efforts. Already past his prime in “Octopussy,” Moore – who was 57 at the time of filming “A View to a Kill” – had visibly aged since the last time fans saw him as 007, something even Moore himself acknowledged after the fact. Making matters worse was Bond girl Tanya Roberts, whose portrayal of Stacey Sutton was grating at best. Christopher Walken earned deserved kudos for playing psychopathic villain, Max Zorin, who plots to destroy Silicon Valley with an earthquake and gain a monopoly in the market. Both Moore and Walken criticized the movie for being too violent and over the top, while not adhering to the classic Bond mold.